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:: Sunday, December 22, 2002 ::

Best Commie Venus Movie Ever

If you're like me, you thought commies were all about long lines, tough toilet paper and bad service, not ray-guns, robots and spaceships. Well we would be wrong, at least in the case of the East German-Polish Summer blockbuster of 1959: First Spaceship on Venus!

Remember that meteor or comet that hit Tunguska back in 1908? Who would have guessed that it was really a spaceship from Venus? Want proof: 'scientists' found and analyzed the flight data recorder.

American Astrophysicist Dr. Harringway (yeah, he looks American alright. Everybody in the states has that haircut.) Announces the findings to a crows of startled 'scientists,' and proposes a mission to Venus to figure out what happened.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sikarna (whose work rivals even that of Einstein) has harnessed the world's largest electronic brain to the task of translating the Venusian black box. Doesn’t Dr. Sikarna have the perfect “the future belongs to the New Soviet Man” stare?

Even though the world’s biggest electronic brain can’t decipher the data recorder, the mission to Venus is on! Everybody heads down to the rocket site (unnamed, but because this is a commie film, let’s assume they go to Zvezdny Gorodok.), where French Chief Engineer Durand is putting the final touches on the CCCP Cosmostrator. Y’know it’s funny: whenever a bunch of commies get together, you’re bound to spot a Frenchman in the group. Why is that? At least this one has a bitchin’ Members-Only jacket.

American astronaut Brinkman drops by in his MiG (continuity alert!). He’s joining the crew, and so is Ernest Borgnine Dr. Orlov. You can tell Brinkman is American by his leather snoopy cap. All the fly fighter-jocks have’em.

One of the Obligatory Sci-Fi Film Elements (OSFE) is the cute robot. And since your basic commie feels an urgent need to keep up with the West, this film has one too. Meet Omega.

Omega can predict the weather, play chess and even hold a decent conversation with an American like Brinkman. One thing Omega can’t do is censor himself. By accident, he almost reveals a state secret!

That was a close one! Good thing the commie film commissariat caught it in time!

Flight Medical Officer Sumiko joins the crew because -- let’s face it -- it’s a thirty-one day trip to Venus, and somebody must look after the men. Do you think they’ll leave the toilet seat down for her sake? Lousy commies!

Sumiko and Brinkman used to have a thing for each other, back when umm... Sumiko was married to Brinkman’s best friend. Now that she’s a widower, Brinkman’s ready to re-ignite the old passion. Could this film really be an interstellar romance?

Now that the Cosmostrator’s crew is all here, the countdown is on. The crew zonk out into artificial hibernation (to be well rested for the trip). Meanwhile the preparations for the launch are broadcast by the gorgeous German babes of Intervision.

Launch time! The cosmonauts board the Cosmostrator, while the ground crew gives them a real commie-style send-off: cheering throngs and a round of The Internationale

Let’s take another look at the checklist.
Cute Robot? Check.
Model Spaceship? Check.
Obligatory weightless scene? Time for Ernest Borgnine Dr. Orlov to float out of his chair!

Now that’s something you don’t see in your typical sci-fi film isn’t it?

Cosmostrator uses the Moon to slingshot off to Venus. The Moon is where Sumiko’s husband died (Brinkman was the only witness, hmm...), so this part of the film is a bit difficult for her.

The trip to Venus is a bit draggy. There’s not much to do except drink milkshakes and wait. And Ernest Borgnine doesn’t seem to care for the milkshakes. Trouble ahead?

Instead of drinking milkshakes, he challenges Omega to chess, and loses again and again. Somebody better keep an eye on him!

A film about a rocketship isn’t officially sci-fi unless it has a meteor shower. This one has two. That will show the imperialists!

The first shower damages the Cosmostrator, so Durand must venture outside and make repairs. Will he finish in time for the ship to avoid the second swarm? The crew hold their breaths and wait!

He makes it! Now the ship is safe, and the second meteor shower takes place off screen. But trust me it was just as cool as the first.

Meanwhile Dr. Sikarna and Astrobiologist Chen Yu use Cosmostrator’s portable electronic brain to finish translating the Venusian black box. And sit down, you’ll be in for a shock when you read the transcript. The crashed Venusian spaceship wasn’t an explorer, but a war party. This is shocking news!

Like every good American, Brinkman remembers Pearl Harbor, and hates anyone who tries a sneaky attack. He sets off in the chrono-copter to kick Venus’s butt!

Brinkman lands in a vitrified forest and gets ready to set the Venusians straight. He unleashes Omega, the fightin’ robot (who knew?) to go find the Venusian menace.

Dr. Harringway lands Cosmostrator and sets up a scientific team to investigate why nobody Venus seems to be nothing but blasted ruin. They drive around in their spacemobiles (which have tailfins, yay!). And they do find something: a giant glowing orb!

Back at the ranch, Chen Yu is taking soil samples and pitching tents (tents? crazy commies!). When he hears the news about the orb, he gathers up the posse and they ride over in their spacemobile.

The area surrounding the orb looks like an atom bomb went off. Could the Venusian war fleet have had a little trouble handling the ordinance? Looks like the answer is yes. Good thing for us their invasion party blew up in their faces. Only their shadows remain etched into the walls.

At least the orb is untouched. The cosmonauts venture inside to explore what's left of Venus.

Brinkman and Sumiko go exploring (with Durand following behind like a third wheel). They find some strange looking spires, but suddenly evil Venusian mud attacks them!

Durand whips out his disintegrator pistol and repels the mud (you know this is a commie movie when the Frenchman is the cowboy).

Believe it or not, this is the climax of the film. What happens next is difficult to follow, let alone describe. Typical commie logic. Let me try to convey it in small points:

1. Durand shoots the Venusian mud.
2. The disintegrated mud causes a chain reaction which reverses gravity on the planet (?!?).
3. Talua falls down (or up?) a shaft and is stranded.
4. Chen Yu tries to rescue Talua, but tears his suit.
5. Brinkman tosses some oxygen cylinders into the trunk of the rocket plane and sets off to save Chen Yu.
6. The Cosmostrator is hurled off the planet, and heads back to earth.

Chen Yu dies, Brinkman and Talua are stranded, but the rest of the crew aboard the Cosmostrator make it safely to Earth.

Oh yeah, almost forgot: Omega goes Tarantino on Harringway.

When they land, the crew disembarks to a hero's welcome. It's up to Sumiko to convey the bad news about the casualties on Venus.

The last ten minutes of the film try to drive an anti-nuclear message into your head with swinging blows. I guess a film isn't really commie unless it has ham-fisted propaganda. Don't be taken in: didn't atomic explosions just save the Earth from evil Venusians?

Thank you, nuclear energy.

First Spaceship on Venus has something of a cult following. Apparently, the original East German-Polish version had an additional 1/3 of material never seen by Americans. (Note: apparently the extra footage doesn't clear anything up.) Some parts of the film look great; other parts look downright silly. The multi-ethnic cast would please today's bean-counters.

But the best thing about FSOV is its origin. This small peek under the iron curtain justifies the billions we spent on containment. Without the Arsenal of Democracy to protect us, what other horrors would the commies have unleashed upon us?

:: Anna 3:56 PM [+] ::

Our Man Flint (Partial Review)

I have this nagging feeling that someone is putting one over on us. When I read that James Coburn Derek Flint died, I was sad. Then I remembered how he snuck onto evil-mad-scientist-cabal Galaxy’s secret island fortress: by faking his own death

You see, Flint could stop his heart (still can, apparently) and play dead for hours. Knowing that Exotica Cosmetics was a trap, he allowed himself to be captured and allowed them to think he’d suffocated in the vault. So they stuffed him in a coffin and shipped him to their secret lair. All according to Flint’s clever plan…

When his spy-watch woke him up, he snuck off for some reconnaissance, but was captured by the anti-American eagle (diabolical!), and brought before the mad scientists.

When Dr. Wu offered an invitation to join Galaxy and rule the world, Flint just laughed. No utopia could compare to the American Way of Life (AWOL). When evil Rodney accidentally killed the scientists and set the island to explode, Flint figured he’d better round up his five girlfriends and swim for safety.

So I was thinking: the last time an evil cabal we couldn’t find broadcast their demands, the President called Flint – who stopped his heart and saved the day. Seen in that light, Flint’s recent obituary makes perfect sense. It’s all going according to Flint’s clever plan.

I could be wrong about this. If I am, we should honor his memory this Thanksgiving by making Our Man Flint the top rental.

Two Ears Up

:: Anna 3:07 PM [+] ::

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